Friday, March 24, 2006

A Startling Early Film

by Carl Theodor Dreyer

The first thing that I noticed about The Passion of Joan of Arc is how different it is from other silent films. The film is shot with bold angles, fast cuts, an extraordinary number of closeups and realistic performances. It took me a few minutes to get into it as it was so unlike what I was expecting.
It is a simple story that is based on the transcript of the trial of Joan of Arc with raw and realistic acting. The drama is played out almost completely on the faces of the characters. No makeup was worn by the actors and the simplicity of the performances is perfectly balanced by unusual angles and cuts. I hadn’t realized that such sharp and rich images were possible with the technology of the time and it almost seems as if the film could have been made in the late 50s or early 60s instead of in 1927. If you’re interested in silent film or the history of cinema, you have to see this film.

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